Few Injuries, No Fatalities in Town During Storm
Downed trees, wires still the biggest problem in town.
As the first week after the storm comes to a close, rescue squad leaders are pleased that despite all the devastation and destruction in town, there have been no real injuries and absolutely no fatalities.
"We have not run across any injuries associated with the storm," said Martinsville Rescue Squad Chief John Cowley.
There have been some oxygen runs over the past few days, Cowley said, and the call volume is up slightly, but there have not been many issues from the height of the storm.
"We are trying to avoid taking patients that are not really hurt to the hospital because it is already packed," he said. "But things were not too bad in the height of the storm, we didn't have any calls, and we suspended some operations."
Bradley Gardens Rescue Squad Chief Chris Ireland agreed, and said the call volume has been low during the duration of the storm.
"The fire department has been called for trees and lines down, and they deserve credit," he said.
One call, Ireland said, was because a tree fell on a woman's house and cracked the fuel tank, which spilled oil into her basement.
"They had the county hazmat team come out," he said. "She had to be transported to the hospital because she waas inhaling oil."
Ireland said the squad had four calls during this storm, as compared to only three calls during Irene in 2011. For the most part, he said, the problems are limited to the downed trees and wires.
"People should not go through barricades," he said. "They want to drive under the wires, but you have to heed warnings."
Ireland said there are a lot of roads closed in the Bradley Gardens section of town, which makes it difficult to navigate, but they are using the side streets and other areas to get through. Plus, he said, a township bulldozer came through recently to move some of the trees to the side.
The biggest incident in the Bradley Gardens section, Ireland said, was on Ivy Lane, where a tree fell and took off the side of a house on a second story. The family has put a tarp over the side of the house that is now missing.
"A couch was sticking out of the side," he said. "It looks like a dollhouse."
In addition, Cowley said, they actually have extra members available for working at this point because of the many people whose regular jobs have been closed.
"We have an emergency natural gas generator, and members are coming so we don't have to scramble for people," he said. "We have not had to redirect any calls."
And of course getting gas for generators and vehicles is still a difficulty, Cowley said, and lines are long. A Hess station on Route 22 at Chimney Rock Road, he said, had a line Thursday that stretched miles back, and they shut one of the islands to allow people to stand to get gas for generators.
"The ports got flooded, so they can't get the tankers in," he said. "When they try to get oil they can't."
"We have told the squad to think about conserving fuel," he added. "We are being careful and making sure we are full of fuel."
As for the fire departments, Bill Rose, a member of the Martinsville Fire Department, said they are getting a lot of calls for fire and carbon monoxide alarms going off.
"Alarms are continuing as batteries fail or power is restored," he said.
Otherwise, aside from a few cellar pumps, Rose said, the biggest issues they are dealing with are downed wires and trees.
"Downed wires are still untouched in the northern part of Bridgewater, and we are just now seeing a few survey teams assessing damaged infrastructure," said Rose, who himself had a large tree hit his house.
And, of course, the lack of gas is starting to become a problem.
"As firefighters continue to respond to calls, they are running low on gas," he said. "We will need to pull together a plan to assure the responders can respond."